Written by NoCamels

It’s hard to imagine with all the rain and sleet and snow this month in various parts of the world that spring and summer are just around the corner. Sightbit, the Israeli startup leveraging AI to alert lifeguards when swimmers are in danger, is ready, with its life-saving, preventative drowning tech already implemented and operating at full capacity at beaches throughout Israel, Europe, and the US.

Along the way, the Beersheba-based company has received requests from some of the same customers that use its AI tech to come up with a way to deal with aquatic environments and situations, including floods.

“In 2020, we conducted a very small POC (proof of concept) in regards to trying to detect a flooding river. And we managed to pass it and since then, we’ve improved our system and eventually realized that our core technology is not only good for swim sites, it’s also good for any water environment — because we specialize in detecting water changes,” Netanel Eliav, CEO and co-founder of Sightbit tells NoCamels.

“Let’s say water is gathering outside of your house because of a storm. There isn’t supposed to be water there. er. In the beginning, Sighbit’s technology will detect be able to detect a small amount of water and see that it’s not changing. But then maybe it will change. because of the rain. The second stage is to try to analyze and see what the change of the size and the movement of the water and then realizing it could potentially turn into something serious,” he adds.

Sightbit was founded in 2018 by students at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) including Eliav and Adam Bismut. It received financial backing from Cactus Capital, a venture arm of BGU and the first student-run university venture capital firm in Israel.

Sightbit’s core system is based on deep-learning computer-vision technology that transmits real-time information to monitors in various control rooms, which sounds an alarm when people are in danger and gives alerts when a system or structure might fail. The same technology is now being used to detect dangerous water situations, such as flooding.

“The first thing that reminds you of what’s so special about Sightbit technology is that we can use an off-the-shelf camera — any camera of the city or company or any camera outside your home, simply above the garage. We can use it [to detect dangerous water situations] and we don’t need any special sensors.”

When the user realizes a water situation could turn into a flood, the Sightbit team provides insights to the user, the county, the command center. “Because it’s a prediction, they can actually send the forces over to the area before something happens,” says Eliav.

It’s important to note that Sightbit technology to predict flooding is particularly for cities and urban settings, where the infrastructure is often difficult to manage during a flood situation. “Most of the time when you have floods, it’s because of lack of management of the infrastructures, so they need to open the pipes, to close them, to open the dam, to close the dam, and they realize they need to react to that only when they can already detect the flood and it’s too late. Now because everything regarding Sightbit is the prediction, and then they can make the decision on what to do,” he says.

When Eliav says it’s the same customers that want this technology, he means that the same companies that requested Sightbit for human public safety and security purposes are the ones that could benefit from the new technology used for flooding predictions. Besides cities, factories and companies located near the water also need to be aware of the water situation – including things like high tides and floods – in order to see if it has affected their infrastructure.

The core technology

In a Zoom interview with NoCamels, Sightbit co-founders Eliav and Bismut tell NoCamels about Sightbit’s core technology. “We can not only detect the water, but we can detect the changes of the water, the direction that the water is moving in, and today, we are already able to detect the source of the water. Now some of the time, the sources drain – that’s obvious – but other times its pipelines and infrastructures from other cities. So we detect the water, the movement, the situation, and the source,” Eliav explains.

Sightbit’s AI lifeguard has zeroed in on a potentially dangerous water situation and a rescue is in progress. Courtesy

“It’s very difficult and very challenging…because the water is always changing,” adds Bismut, “Our algorithms are very unique because they are the only ones that can detect and read the water themselves,” Bismut says the technology can detect changing behavior in the water, whether that means the direction the water is moving in or whether there are objects in the water or humans stuck because of it.

The core technology can deal with any type of water and situation captured by any type of camera, one just needs to direct the camera in the right direction, press on the feature (whether you want to check for humans in the water or potential flooding or even tsunami detection, according to the co-founders.

Drowning prevention tech

Sightbit is currently working with cities and beaches throughout Israel including Ashdod, which has implemented the technology throughout the city. It also has agreements with areas like Lake Ontario in Canada and the territory of Gibraltar on Spain’s south coast. Meanwhile, the company has pilots throughout the US (California, Florida, and more) and is in talks with many more beaches, municipalities, and groups across Europe and the United States.

As part of its pilots at various beaches throughout Israel, Sightbit essentially became an AI lifeguard. In other words, the software acted as an additional lifeguard, flagging threats to swimmers, while special cameras filmed the beach’s swim areas and algorithms analyzed the footage in real-time to flag incidents.

The system mapped bathers’ locations, warns of potential drowning hazards, changes in sea data – such as unexpected waves and currents – and provides control over the movement of various populations in general, and young children in particular.

In addition to its real-time alerts, water hazards, and warnings to swimmers, Sightbit also provides crowding management solutions, updates on weather conditions, and offers estimates on how many lifeguards are needed on a given day to safely monitor swimmers.

It will continue to do so this summer in Israel as tourists begin to trickle in again following the easing of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a long coastline in Israel and we are glad to announce we have conquered most of it. So in any place that there is a beach, Sightbit is operating there,” says Eliav, “So this is a great thing — we started with POC and pilots at Palmachim and now there is an actual product.”